This week’s Come, Follow Me lesson covers the story of Nephi praying on a tower in his garden, drawing a crowd, and revealing facts about the murder of the chief judge that he could only know through revelation. As I read the lesson, I felt like the story was highly dramatic!
So, for my family, I adapted the story into a short play and added a few discussion questions at the end. I share it here in case it’s useful for your family. You can download the PDF of the play (which probably runs about five minutes) and it’s also reproduced below. Happy home church (for those still doing home church) or other family spiritual time!
Nephi and the Garden Tower
This dramatization is based on the events depicted in the Book of Mormon in Helaman 7-9. I have adapted the language and – in one case – added a character (Nephi’s brother Lehi) to help the dialogue flow more easily. At the end of some lines, I have included references in brackets to indicate where in the scriptures I have drawn from.
Cast of characters
Speaking parts (in order of speaking)
- Nephi’s brother Lehi [only appears at beginning, so same actor could also play Seantum]
- Onlookers / messengers
- Crowd (at funeral)
- Chief judge (body)
Act 1: Nephi in the garden
[Open on Lehi, brother of Nephi, sitting in a chair. Nephi enters, apparently tired from a long journey.]
Lehi: Welcome back, my brother! How was your journey to the north? Did you have success in your preaching? Were you like Ammon among the Lamanites? (7:2)
Nephi: Oh, I wish. I tried. I preached so many things to them. I prophesied things to them. I warned them! But they just keep turning everything around. They punish righteous people. They let crooks go if they have money. (7:5)
Lehi: Tough time, man.
Nephi: You know, sometimes I wish I lived when Nephi came over in the ship with his father Lehi and his mother Sariah. In those days, people kept the commandments. They repented easily. My soul would have rested easily. [7:7]
Lehi: Um, when was the last time you read the plates, Nephi?
Nephi: Okay, okay. Anyway, I’m exhausted. I’m going to go recharge spiritually in the garden.
[Lehi leaves the stage. Nephi walks to the garden and climbs on the garden tower. Onlookers stand nearby, pretending to chat. Nephi starts to pray.]
Nephi: Oh Father in Heaven, my soul is filled with sorrow because of the wickedness of the people. [7:9]
Onlooker: Wow, what’s with Nephi? That guy seems unhinged! People have got to see this! [7:11]
[Onlookers run off and bring back judges.]
Nephi [finishing prayer]: Amen.
[Nephi stands up.]
Nephi: What are you all doing here? Do you want me to tell you about your sins? I came up here to pray to God because I’m sad. You know why I’m sad? Because of your sins! And you’re surprised? You should be surprised, surprised that you’ve let the devil completely take over your hearts! Repent! Repent! If you don’t repent, then this awesome city – and all the other awesome cities around here – they’re going to get taken away from you, and God won’t help you out of your mess this time.
Judges: Do you hear what he’s saying about us? Why would you let him talk like that? Get him!
Onlookers: Leave him alone! He’s a good guy, and the stuff he’s saying is going to happen!
Nephi: Do you guys remember Moses, how he parted the Red Sea? Well, if God could give him power to do that, why couldn’t he give me power to tell you what’s going to happen to you and your city if you don’t shape up? Moses also testified that the Son of God would come. And so did Abraham. And Zenos.
Nephi: Zenos! He was a prophet. You don’t know him. And Zenock. And Ezias. And Isaiah. And Jeremiah. They all testified that the Son of God would come. But you won’t believe. You won’t believe how bad things have gotten here. It’s so bad that your chief judge is dead. He was murdered and he’s lying in his blood, in the judgment seat, right now. His brother killed him. They both belong to Gadianton’s gang.
Onlookers: What? How could Nephi know that? Let’s go see for ourselves.
Act 2: The chief judge, dead
Scene 1: The judgment seat
Onlookers [running to the judgment seat]: Look, I don’t really believe Nephi is a prophet. But we may as well check. If the chief judge is dead, then everything else Nephi said is probably true too.
[The onlookers come upon a chair with the deceased chief judge.]
[They fall to the ground in amazement. A crowd of people walk in.] [9:4-5, 7]
Crowd: Look, the chief judge is dead! These must be the murderers! God has struck them down so they couldn’t run away! [9:8]
[The crowd grabs the onlookers and drag them to prison.]
Scene 2: The funeral
[Judges and crowd are gathered for the funeral.]
Judges: It seems like Nephi at least got one thing right: the chief judge was killed. I wonder what happened to those five guys who went to the judgment seat from Nephi’s house yesterday.
Crowd: We didn’t see any five guys from Nephi’s house. But we did catch the five killers! We’ve got them in jail.
Judges: Wait a second, can we see them?
Crowd: I guess.
[Crowd goes, brings back onlookers.]
Onlookers [speaking to judges]: We’re so glad to see you! We came to see if what Nephi said was true, and everything was exactly as he predicted. We were so surprised that we passed out, and when we woke up, they threw us in prison. We don’t know who killed the chief judge, but he’s dead, just like Nephi said he would be.
Judges [speaking to crowd]: Do you see that? Nephi must have made a deal with someone to kill the judge, so then he could tell us about it and we would all join his church and we’d think he was a great prophet! Now we’ll get Nephi to admit the truth of his terrible plan! [9:16-17]
Onlookers: You don’t get it! Nephi told us what happened because he actually is a prophet! [9:18]
Judges: We don’t buy it! Get Nephi!
[Crowd leaves and brings back Nephi who is bound.] [9:19]
Judges: Hey Nephi, it’s great to see you again. Look, we know you made a deal with someone to kill the chief judge. Here’s some cash. We’ll give you all that and we’ll let you go free, if you just admit that’s what happened.
Nephi: You fools! How long do you think God is going to put up with you going on and on in your sins like this? You say I’ve agreed with someone to murder the chief judge, just because I prophesied to you that he’d been killed. I did that as a sign, to convince you. Here, I’ll give you one more sign, and we’ll see if you use that to try and destroy me as well. Go to the house of Seantum, brother of the chief judge, and say: Did Nephi, the fake prophet, make a deal with you to murder your brother? He’ll say no. Then… [Trails off but continues talking.]
Act 3: Nephi and the killer
[At the home of Seantum, brother of the chief judge. Onlookers and crowd show up.]
Crowd: Hey Seantum, did you make a deal with Nephi to kill your brother?
Seantum: What? No. What are you talking about?
Onlookers: Did you murder your brother?
Seantum: Uh, what? Why would you ask me that? Um, I mean, no, of course not. I’m innocent!
Crowd: Oh, yeah, then what’s that blood on your cloak?! What’s that from? [9:31-32]
Seantum: Um, uh, well, um, uh…
Onlookers: Your hesitation certainly doesn’t make you look innocent, Seantum. You killed your brother, didn’t you?
Seantum: Fine, I did it! But what are you talking about with Nephi? I’ve never even spoken to Nephi. [9:35-36]
Crowd: You’re going to jail!
[Crowd and onlookers bring Seantum back to where Nephi is.]
Judges: It looks like Nephi is innocent. This time.
Onlookers: You see? Nephi really is a prophet! That’s twice that he’s told us what had happened.
Crowd: He’s not a prophet. He must be some sort of god. That’s the only way he could know this stuff.
Judges: I still think he’s just a faker.
[Arguing, the onlookers, crowd, judges, and Seantum all disperse. Seantum is led away by the crowd. Nephi is left alone, looking thoughtful.]
- Nephi’s courage in the face of accusations. He told the truth, no matter what. The Lord rewards his faithfulness with trust. Consider reading Helaman 10:3-5. Or read this quote from President Henry B. Eyring: “When you demonstrate your willingness to obey, the Spirit will send you more impressions of what God would have you do for Him.” (source)
- The onlookers tried out the words of the prophet. And when the words were true, they believed. How can we test the words of the Savior and of his prophets? Consider referencing John 1:39.
- In the face of the miracles, some believed (the onlookers) and some did not (the judges). We can choose how we react. Consider referencing Alma 62:41.
David Evans, economist, cinophile, blogger, and … playwright
Our family had a lot a fun doing this. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you! We used this today and really enjoyed it!
My youngest child is in her 40s, so didn’t play.
My take away from the lesson was “letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills—
6 Now this great iniquity had come upon the Nephites, in the space of not many years; and when Nephi saw it, his heart was swollen with sorrow within his breast; and he did exclaim in the agony of his soul:
Could be describing the present US government. Except we don’t have a prophet warning us, like they did. Not a moral problem?